7.18 | Fall 2005 | Undergraduate

Topics in Experimental Biology


Journal Club: Paper Presentations and Summaries

During the second class session, every student will submit four primary scientific papers directly relevant to his/her research project. Some of the papers will be chosen for in-class discussion. The student whose paper is chosen will lead the paper discussion. He or she will meet with the instructors in advance to go over the paper. The rest of the students, i.e., those who do not lead the paper discussion, will need to write a one-page summary of the paper. The summary should address the following points:

  • A brief summary of the field when the experiments were conducted.
  • One or two sentences describing the major findings of the paper.
  • Assessment of whether the experimental methods used were appropriate.
  • Assessment of whether the data presented support the conclusions drawn.
  • Proposal of experiments for improving the study and/or for further studies.

The summary (please provide 2 copies on the due date) will be collected and evaluated for scientific content and writing. The papers that are discussed in class will provide materials for the writing tutorial.

Supporting Documents for the Research Paper

You will be asked to assemble a cumulative file of documents as an underpinning for your research article. Some of the documents you need to collect; others you will write. Please submit individual documents as hard copy on the dates due.

Instructions to Authors

Choose a likely journal to which you might submit your final paper (e.g., Cell). Photocopy or print out the Instructions to Authors section and highlight anything of interest to you.

Journal Club Paper Summaries

We will read and discuss several “model” articles in class. For each, unless you are the person presenting the article, please submit a one-page summary as described.

Annotated Bibliography

Write two or three sentences describing each of about ten articles that will be included in your final bibliography. Consider how the article applies to your own work.

Figure Critique

Analyze the figures from one of the model papers. Interpret and evaluate the figures.


List alphabetically, and define, about ten terms you are using in your paper with which your readers may be unfamiliar.

Nonscientific Abstract

Write a one-page abstract of your paper addressed to a general audience.

Research Paper

One goal of the course is that you write a research article, following the standard IMRAD format (Introduction, Material and Methods, Results, and Discussion). Each section will first be submitted separately. (Figures will be submitted with the Results section.) You will receive comments for revision from your instructors and a peer reviewer. The complete draft is a revision and joining together of the individual sections. The final paper is a second draft.

Some of you may not have enough results to write up a paper. In this case, you may, instead, work on a grant proposal. Please speak to the instructors if this is the case.

Oral Presentations

On the day that you give your presentations, please bring a printout of your slides to class. Oral presentation assignments include a project introduction and two other 15-minute presentations during the semester.

Project Introduction

Give a five-minute presentation introducing your project. You should have three slides, indicating the following:

  • A working title for your project, your name, the name of your lab or lab director.
  • Background of your project: what is the scientific question and why it is important.
  • Aim of your project and principal method(s).

Progress Report

Give a 15 minute presentaion that includes an introduction, progress to date and problems, as well as any conclusions with discussion.

Final Presentation

Give a 15 minute presentation that includes an introduction, results, and a conclusion section.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments
Presentation Assignments